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From Student to Teacher: A Budding Band Director's Journey

From Student to Teacher: A Budding Band Director's Journey

Many might expect cacophonous middle school band rehearsals full of silly antics. But for PHS senior Jacob Collins, his weekly Academy Experience site visits to Briar Middle School reveal harmonious collaboration and musical growth. As an aspiring band director, Jacob completes field experiences at the middle school, gaining hands-on practice in music instruction.

"I visit the middle school and work in the band room with Ms. Schroeder and Mr. Zanella," Jacob said. "The main focus of my visits is to observe and interact with the students, and help them grow as musicians."

He works directly with directors facilitating sectionals, assisting beginners, and even conducting. Initially, Jacob expected similarities to his high school band classes. However, he discovered a new dynamic stepping into a teacher role.

"The students see me as a teacher rather than a peer," he said.

This shift in perspective provided a window into his future career. Seeing the students' musical journey culminate in live performances has been incredibly rewarding for Jacob.

"At the middle school concert last year, I was truly able to see how the growth over time of these students came to what they were working towards," he recalled. Witnessing the progress students can make in just one year reaffirmed his passion for nurturing budding musicians.

Immersing himself in the music classroom has clarified the dedication required for music education.

"Attending class every day is the only way I can learn what I am doing," Jacob stated. "Everything is very important that I learn over there, so I cannot pinpoint one key insight."

Through consistent exposure, he grasps the holistic knowledge band directors require. Learning to balance his current student role with teacher responsibilities posed an initial challenge.

“Finding the balance between teacher and student at the middle school was the most difficult,” Jacob admitted. However, this experience gave him a new lens. “This challenge made me see all my music classes in a different way,” he said.

With a long background in band himself, Jacob entered with foundational knowledge for instruction. Still, collaborating with veteran teachers has provided growth.

“All interactions with Ms. S and Mr. Z have just helped me work to become more educated on the other side of music,” he noted. Their mentorship equips him to positively impact future generations.

For Academy Experience mentors, there is an investment in time, as well as benefits, Mr. Zanella said.

“Jacob has been a strong member of our band program for a number of years," Mr. Zanella said. "He has grown as a more thoughtful person through his work with the middle school bands. Jacob has also been a great asset to our young musicians, helping them within class and offering them guidance one-on-one and in small groups.” 

When embarking on site visits themselves, Jacob stresses clarity of purpose.

“Take notes. Take photos. Know what your intent is when you go into your experience,” he said. Having goals for specific takeaways or career discernment can help guide focus amidst the bustling band room environment.

The PHS Academy Experience provides personalized guidance for the next wave of community leaders to discover their direction while still in high school. Jacob’s journey highlights how site visits can empower students to find their calling and crystallize career paths that align with their gifts and talents. By learning directly from seasoned professionals, the leaders of tomorrow are prepared to make an impact.

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